The squealing feedback of dissonant guitars, angry blood rising before even a word is spoken. The voices of the modern extreme elite, Converge’s Jacob Bannon, Baroness’ John Baizley, Youth Code, soldiers in arms for the battle ahead against opposing forces from both within and without. The sentiment, the statement: “You will never be one of us”. SoCal powerviolence power trio Nails return, once again alongside production mad scientist Kurt Ballou (another genius hailing from house Converge) to unleash their latest genre redefining mile-a-minute diatribe, scathing in both action and words, picking up right where the band left off on 2013’s instant grind classic “Abandon All Life”.
An even grimier, rustier chainsaw of a guitar sound greets fans this time out, the double bass drumming becoming an endless barrage of deafening thuds and the punishing bass low end, as heard in all its glory around the halfway mark of “Friend To All”, barges through the ears like a face across concrete. As with most of your thrash, grind, punky quick but brutally heavy stuff the catchiness of the riffs and drum patterns keep the listener coming back, but more so than anything else, and different from anyone else Nails just has a fucking sound that completely envelops, accomplished faultlessly here with Ballou’s production wizardry and of course the incredibly tight unit of mouthpiece/axeman and figurehead Todd Jones, bassist John Gianelli and drummer Taylor Young. These guys have only been around since 2009 but you’d never guess, laying down earth shattering perfection in league with 20+ year vets like Behemoth, the aforementioned Converge or fellow grind heroes Napalm Death.
And it’s all wrapped together by Jones’ blackened rasp, the lyrical content, his attitude, his total dedication and devotion to his craft. This band has been firing on all cylinders since their inception and “You Will Never be One Of Us” is the culmination, an absolute masterpiece of form and function. Jones has stated in interviews the intention of the record’s concept, “about dedicating your life to something, and then seeing someone come around who takes more than they give and who you know is there for the wrong reasons. When I talk about ‘us’ I mean the community that listens to Nails and that Nails is part of. It’s an inclusive thing that means so much to us”. As potent, prescient and relevant a message as ever, especially given people like Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian parading around in black leather and Metallica shirts. To paraphrase Paul Mooney on Chappelle’s Show, “everybody wants to be metal, but nobody wants to be metal”, to not only want but need that sense of community, to feel lost without it. I’m never more comfortable than in the relative darkness of a show, surrounded by likeminded individuals, secure in the fact that I’m not being ridiculed, judged or profiled. What do they know about that? These “normal” people, let alone rich, beautiful people? Born famous and spoon-fed privilege. They will never be one of us.
Nails leading the charge, a call to arms for honesty and camaraderie amongst the true heavy music faithful, couldn’t be more perfect, even prior to ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us”, but now they’ve drawn an even longer line in the sand with an even bigger stick. Get on board or get out of the way.